Asia accounted for 54% of the $1 billion revenue earned by the global esports market in 2020, according to Niko Partners, a market research and consulting firm.
In 2020, around $543.8 million in esports revenue was earned in Asia. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and event organisers having to cancel physical events and shift to online streaming events, this was an increase of 4.9% compared to 2019.
Expected Asian market revenue in 2021 will be around $600 million, a 10.5% improvement over 2020.
These figures don’t include any profits generated by the games, only the esports industry itself. The primary revenue sources were esports licensing agreements, media rights, and sponsors looking for alternatives to traditional sports and media during the pandemic lockdown.
The nature of esports and its flexibility as an industry meant it could easily adjust to the new reality of the pandemic. Unlike the traditional sports industry, esports was able to completely move many of its competitions online, continuing to thrive despite the lockdown.
Esports viewership in Asia grew by 21% to 618.4 million spectators in 2020.
This was a significant increase compared to 2019’s 510 million viewers.
Niko Partners Director of Esports Research, Alexander Champlin, said that physical events would more than likely continue in China. The rest of the region is not rushing to return to live esports events just yet.
“The Dota 2 One Esports Singapore Major, one of the largest in-person esports events to take place in Southeast Asia in 2021, will likely be more of a fluke than the start of a return to normal. However, the industry has already begun a strong pivot away from in-person events as the cornerstone of esports. Brand partnerships and streaming deals are becoming the heart of the industry in an online-only world. Most growth in 2020 came from these two sectors of the industry, and we predict, even after in-person events resume, these will remain the segments that drive the market,” said Champlin.
The UK esports market contributed £111.5 million to the country’s GDP in 2019.
With a year-on-year growth of 8.5%, the UK esports sector represents 8% of the growing global market.
Champlin commented that esports events in 2022 are most likely to adopt a hybrid approach before returning to normal completely. “Countries that have historically benefited from esports tourism, like many in Southeast Asia, will be quicker to make this shift once live events become safe, while countries like China, Korea, Japan, and even India, with strong livestreaming ecosystems and domestic esports industries, will approach this with less urgency,” Champlin added.
Esports betting became even more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it continues to grow as most of the top online betting venues have started adopting esports into their gaming portfolios. We expect the trend to continue in 2022 as more people discover the joys and challenges of esports betting.